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ANALYSIS: The Ultimate Guide To The Results of Monterey Car Week 2023

Updated: Sep 11

As Pebble Beach returns to its natural state as a golf course, as the masses head back to the airport and as the streets of Carmel no longer resemble a scene from a movie, it's time to look back on what we learnt from the auctions over Monterey Car Week 2023.


This post covers all the content we've produced from Monterey 2023, if you want to jump to a certain section, use the table of contents below to go right there.



Table of Contents

Our Takeaways

Top 10 Most Expensive Cars

World Records

The Anti-World Records

Cars That Flew

Cars That Flopped



Our Takeaways


1 - Dollar volume down and average sales price down

Monterey 2022 saw $463m cars sell, with an average sales price of $568,000.


Despite Monterey this year having 120 more cars up for sale, it saw $398m cars sell, with an average sales price of $495,000. That's a 14% and 15% fall respectively vs last year.


On the surface that's disappointing.


However, Monterey 2023 was a monster year. The dollar volume was up 34% vs the previous year, and the average sale price was up 36% vs the previous year.


In other words, Monterey 2023, although down on last year, delivered the second highest dollar volume and average sales price of recent years.


2 - The delta between buyers and sellers is a big one

It seems to be increasingly an issue of late, the discrepancy between what a buyer is willing to pay and what a seller is willing to accept. We're seeing that privately in the classifieds but also in the auction world - Monterey was no exception.


There are multiple ways to tell this but whichever data point you pick the outcome is the same - sellers are looking for more than buyers are willing to pay.


Comparing the estimates to the sales price is telling, across the main auctions* this week the mid-point of the estimate (e.g. a $100,000 - $150,000 estimate, would have a mid-point of $125,000) to the sales price (inc. commission), saw that the sales price was 18% below the estimate mid-point on average, and 12% below it in the median case.


Additionally, almost half, 45%, of cars that sold failed to meet the lower end of the estimate.


And only 18% of cars that sold exceeded the top end of the estimate.



3 - STR reasonable but don't be deceived

The sell-through rate this week was a respectable 69%, slightly below the long-term average we're seeing at the moment and down on Monterey last year (75%) but by no means a disaster.


The next-level of detail is needed to understand the true picture.


Of the 513 cars that sold across the main auctions 327 of those were no reserve. In other words, guaranteed to sell regardless of what price they reached in the room.


Two things to note here:


  1. The scale of no reserve is huge. 63% of all lots that sold were no reserve

  2. When you strip out the no reserve cars and look at the sell-through rate of the vehicles that did have a reserve the rate drops from 69% to 57% a much truer reflection and a reinforcement of our takeaway #1


In other words, that sell-through rate is flattered heavily by the level of no reserve cars sitting within.


4 - 58 world records set

Monterey is know for its high prices, after all, over half of the world's most expensive cars to sell publicly have sold at Monterey Car Week.


This year was no exception. 58 world records were set across the main auctions, that's 11% of all the lots sold over the three days.


To see the full list check out our guide below for the every world record set and what era of cars did particularly well.


Whilst there were plenty of world records we also saw 19 cars sell for the lowest recorded price seen publicly for that model - that's 4% of all the lots sold. Note of caution on these records, for some models there is a limited pool of reference points where these models have sold before.


5 - King of the Jungle

By nearly every metric, one auction house dominated in Monterey this week.


They had the highest sale value at $154,131,000 of any auction house (over $50,000,000 ahead of second place).


They had the highest average sale price at $901,352 (over $150,000 ahead of second place).


They had the highest sell-through rate at 85%, excluding no reserve cars it stood at 68%, still the best result of any auction house.


And they had the highest proportion of cars that exceeded their top estimate.


Any guesses?


RM Sotheby's.


They were topped on only two metrics:


  • Mecum took the sales volume prize with 523 cars available and 292 of those sold (vs RM's 202 cars with 171 sold) and;

  • Bonhams took the most expensive car of the week with their Ferrari 412P selling for $30,255,000 (vs RM's $17,000,00 high bid for the 250 LM and the $13,205,000 the XKSS sold for).


We're not being paid to say this but there's no doubt who the King of the Jungle was this week.


6 - Pre-War and Supercars Perform Best

Tracking the prices of these cars over the past 30 years shows clear trends, one of which is that pre-war cars are struggling in recent times - they've seen ever increasing price falls year after year.


However, at the auctions in Monterey they delivered some of the strongest results of all.


Of the cars built in the 1930s or earlier that sold, 15% set world record prices.


This appears to buck the longer-term trend. Now, the question is why?


Partly, it's down to a lot of collectors keeping their powder dry until Monterey - both buyers and sellers holding out until then to buy or sell the best pre-war cars around.


Partly, though it's down to Car Week as a whole. There's a larger focus on pre-war cars than at any other major car event in the world. After all, there has only been one post-war car to win the Pebble Beach Concours since 1968.


The combination of focus on these cars at the event with collectors waiting has driven the prices seen here.


It's worth noting too, how well the modern stuff performed. 30 cars sold that were built in 2010 and onwards, 9 of those set world record prices. A whopping 30%.


So, there we have it our 6 big takeaways from Monterey Car Week 2023.

Lots (exc Withdrawn)

Sold Cars

Dollar Volume

Average Sale Price

Sell-Through Rate

Sell-Through Rate (exc. No Reserve)

Bonhams

109

80

$55,182,940

$689,787

73%

53%

Broad Arrow

169

135

$53,908,440

$399,322

80%

51%

Gooding & Co

164

127

$92,947,480

$731,870

77%

60%

RM Sotheby's

202

171

$154,131,000

$901,351

85%

68%

Mecum

523

292

$42,263,100

$144,737

56%

56%

Total

1167

805

$398,432,960

$494,948

69%

57%

There's a whole lot more to digest, next up, the most expensive cars to sell.



The Top 10 Most Expensive Cars To Sell At Monterey 2023


10 - 1912 Simplex 50hp Toy-Tonneau

This car remarkably was offered from single family ownership where it had resided for 111 years. A remarkable moment for the family and for Gooding to consign the car. They made it count too when it sneaked beyond its upper estimate when selling for $4,075,000 - that makes it the most expensive Simplex to ever sell publicly.



9 - 1995 Ferrari F50

This European spec F50 retains its matching numbers original engine and with only 7,150 miles on the clock and the tool, luggage, and flight case still with the car it presented an opportunity to acquire it from Japan where it had lived for c. 25 years. The bidders took the chance and the F50 sold for $4,240,000, making it the fifth most expensive F50 to ever sell publicly.



8 - 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Cabriolet

This 8C 2300 with its Castagna open coachwork is pure class. The judges at the Pebble Beach agreed when they awarded it first in class. The bidders in the room agree with Gooding & Co when it reached right to the middle of its estimate, selling for $4,515,000.



7 - 1914 Mercer Type 35 - J Runabout

As old antique automobiles go this is up there with the best, and it delivered the highest ever price seen for a Mercer when it smashed through its estimate of $3,000,000 - $4,000,000 and sold for $4,790,000 with Gooding & Co.



6 - 1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Tourer by Corsica

This is one of only two 57S chassis' provided new with four-seat open tourer bodies by Corsica and was recently restored by RM Auto Restoration with 6,000 man-hours spent on the vehicle. Side note: RM Auto Restoration won the Concours at Pebble Beach this year, they also won it last year - no mean feat. This 57S didn't quite meet its estimate but still sold for $5,395,000



5 - 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 by Scaglietti

Originally owned by the King of Cool, Steve McQueen, this was no standard 275 GTB/4. And the price reflected it when it sold for $5,395,000 (that's about a $2,000,000 Steve McQueen premium over a regular 275 GTB/4).



4 - 1959 Ferrari 410 Superamerica Coupe Series III

This 410 Superamerica had an awards list as long at its arm with wins at the 2021 Cavallino Classic, class-win at the 2020 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, and best of show-winner at the 2023 Cavallino Modena and the 2023 Concours d’Elegance Suisse. It was the fourth of 12 Series III examples built and sold towards the top end of its $5,750,000 - $6,750,000 estimate at $6,605,000.



3 - 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta

165 SWB's were built between 1960 and 1963 and this car, chassis 3507 GT, has never been offered for public sale before. In the first 18 months of ownership the initial owner put a superb 15,000 km on the car. That didn't damage its value too much when it sold with Gooding & Co for $9,465,000.



2 - 1957 Jaguar XKSS

This XKSS was only the second XKSS to come to auction in recent history. The previous car failed to sell but reached a high bid of $11,900,000 in 2017. RM Sotheby's placed an estimate on the car of $12,000,000 - $14,000,000 and the car placed slap bang in the middle, selling (including premium) for $13,205,000. The result makes it the second most expensive Jaguar to sell in history.



1 - 1967 Ferrari 412P Berlinetta

The headline lot of the week may have missed its estimate by c. $10,000,000 but despite that it tops the billing after a single bid secured this 412P and brought it to its English owner for the princely sum of $30,255,000 - making it the most expensive car sold at Monterey Car Week 2023. It's also the most expensive car sold to date this year and comes in at number 5 on the all-time most expensive cars publicly sold.



This list just contains those cars that sold, a handful of cars reached the $5,000,000 barrier but didn't meet reserve. These include:


  • 1964 Ferrari 250 LM - High Bid of $17,000,000

  • 2001 Ferrari 550 GT1 Maranello Prodrive - High Bid of $7,400,000

  • 1933 Bugatti Type 55 Roadster - High Bid of $7,200,000

  • 1956 Porsche 550 A Prototype 'Le Mans' Werks Coupe - High Bid of $5,000,000


The World Records


We've analysed every single sale across the 513 cars RM Sotheby's, Bonhams, Broad Arrow and Gooding & Co offered to find the world records that emerged from the auctions in Monterey 2023. A staggering 58 cars made world record prices - that's 11% of all cars sold reached money never before seen for that model.


Truly incredible.


When you look across where those world records came from by auction house, RM dominates both in terms of number of world records and viewing that as a percentage of the number of cars they sold). The breakdown is as follows:

  • Bonhams - 9 Cars (11% of all lots sold)

  • Broad Arrow - 11 Cars (8% of all lots sold)

  • Gooding & Co - 15 Cars (12% of all lots sold)

  • RM Sotheby's - 23 Cars (13% of all lots sold)

When you look at the data by ages of the vehicles that set world records a surprising picture emerges. Those decades that produced the highest proportion of world records were either the veteran cars of the 1900s and 1910s and the supercars of 2010s and 2020s.

Decade

Number of World Records

Number of Sold Cars Overall

% of Lots Sold That Were Records

1880s

0

1

0%

1900s

1

3

33%

1910s

5

13

38%

1920s

2

16

13%

1930s

9

78

12%

1940s

0

15

0%

1950s

8

78

10%

1960s

7

120

7%

1970s

6

58

10%

1980s

2

35

6%

1990s

6

39

15%

2000s

2

27

7%

2010s

6

20

30%

2020s

3

10

30%

Total

58

513

11%


In no particular order here are the 56 world records that came out of Monterey Car Week 2023:

The below models all have a limited number of previous sales, but remain world records

Note: all world records stated are based on USD prices and compared to previous sales using on the day exchange rates to USD, this list would be different if using GBP prices.


Right, onto the other end of the spectrum...



The Anti-World Record Prices From Monterey


These are the results where they broke records for the wrong reasons. These are the cars that broke the record for the lowest price that model has sold in auction records.


Whilst we saw 58 world records across the three days, we also saw 19 cars deliver the lowest ever price seen for that model - that's 4% of all lots that sold.


When you look across where those lowest prices came from by auction house, Broad Arrow led the way both in terms of number of lowest prices and viewing that as a percentage of the number of cars they sold. The breakdown is as follows:

  • Bonhams - 2 Cars (3% of all lots sold)

  • Broad Arrow - 8 Cars (6% of all lots sold)

  • Gooding & Co - 5 Cars (4% of all lots sold)

  • RM Sotheby's - 4 Cars (2% of all lots sold)

Although the dominating decades to deliver the lowest ever prices were the 1910s to 1930s it's slightly misleading. Let us explain.


107 cars sold from those decades and of those 11 made the lowest ever prices seen for that model - that's 10% of cars that sold from those decades.


However, the majority of those cars had very few previous examples that had sold, the majority only had two so the data should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Decade

Number of World Records

Number of Sold Cars Overall

% of Lots Sold That Were Records

1880s

0

1

0%

1900s

0

3

0%

1910s

3

13

23%

1920s

2

16

13%

1930s

6

78

8%

1940s

0

15

0%

1950s

2

78

3%

1960s

3

120

3%

1970s

0

58

0%

1980s

0

35

0%

1990s

2

39

5%

2000s

0

27

0%

2010s

0

20

0%

2020s

1

10

10%

Total

19

513

4%


Here are the 19 lowest prices ever seen for the respective models that came out of Monterey Car Week 2023:

The below models all have a one or two previous sales so should be taken with caution, but remain the lowest ever prices seen for that model


Cars That Flew


These are the cars that smashed through their estimates and flew at Monterey Car Week 2023.


The list here contains those cars that exceeded their estimates based upon dollar value or the percentage by which they exceeded their estimate.



10 - 1966 Aston Martin DB6

Auction House: Bonhams

Estimate: $100,000 - $150,000

Sale Price: $224,000 (inc. commission)

Exceeded Top Estimate By: $74,000 or 33%



9 - 1997 Land Rover Defender 90

1997 Land Rover Defender 90 | Source: RM Sotheby's
1997 Land Rover Defender 90 | Source: RM Sotheby's

Auction House: RM Sotheby's

Estimate: $75,000 - $100,000

Sale Price: $151,200 (inc. commission)

Exceeded Top Estimate By: $51,200 or 34%



8 - 1961 Lincoln Continental Convertible

1961 Lincoln Continental Convertible | Source: Gooding & Co
1961 Lincoln Continental Convertible | Source: Gooding & Co

Auction House: Gooding & Co

Estimate: $140,000 - $180,000

Sale Price: $280,000 (inc. commission)

Exceeded Top Estimate By: $100,000 or 36%



7 - 1959 Frisky Convertible Special

Auction House: RM Sotheby's

Estimate: $30,000 - $40,000

Sale Price: $84,000 (inc. commission)

Exceeded Top Estimate By: $44,000 or 52%



6 - 2020 Ferrari 488 Pista Piloti

Auction House: RM Sotheby's

Estimate: $475,000 - $550,000

Sale Price: $995,000 (inc. commission)

Exceeded Top Estimate By: $445,000 or 45%



5 - 1909 Lorraine-Dietrich 16.4-Liter Grand Prix Two-Seater

1909 Lorraine-Dietrich 16.4-Liter Grand Prix Two-Seater | Source: Bonhams
1909 Lorraine-Dietrich 16.4-Liter Grand Prix Two-Seater | Source: Bonhams

Auction House: Bonhams

Estimate: $600,000 - $800,000

Sale Price: $1,270,000 (inc. commission)

Exceeded Top Estimate By: $470,000 or 37%



4 - 1967 Ferrari 330 GTS by Pininfarina

Auction House: RM Sotheby's

Estimate: $2,000,000 - $2,500,000

Sale Price: $2,975,000 (inc. commission)

Exceeded Top Estimate By: $475,000 or 16%



3 - 1956 Ferrari 410 Superamerica Coupe Series I

Auction House: RM Sotheby's

Estimate: $1,600,000 - $2,200,000

Sale Price: $2,810,000 (inc. commission)

Exceeded Top Estimate By: $610,000 or 22%



2 - 1914 Mercer Type 35-J Raceabout

Auction House: Gooding & Co

Estimate: $3,000,000 - $4,000,000

Sale Price: $4,790,000 (inc. commission)

Exceeded Top Estimate By: $790,000 or 16%



1 - 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB/6C Alloy by Scaglietti

Auction House: RM Sotheby's

Estimate: $2,000,000 - $2,500,000

Sale Price: $3,305,000 (inc. commission)

Exceeded Top Estimate By: $805,000 or 24%



Cars That Flopped


There are two sides to every coin and there were also a number of cars that flopped. These are the cars that missed their lower estimate by the biggest margin.


10 - 1938 Talbot-Lago T120 Cabriolet d'Usine

Estimate: $700,000 - $900,000

Sale Price: $456,000 (inc. commission)

Short of Bottom Estimate By: $244,000 or 54%



9 - 1934 Packard Twelve Model 1108 Individual Custom Convertible Sedan

Estimate: $750,000 - $1,000,000

Sale Price: $450,500 (inc. commission)

Short of Bottom Estimate By: $299,500 or 66%



8 - 1951 Ferrari 212 Inter 'Supergioiello' Coupe

Estimate: $1,500,000 - $1,850,000

Sale Price: $950,000 (inc. commission)

Short of Bottom Estimate By: $550,000 or 58%



7 - 1930 Bentley Speed Six Sports Saloon

Estimate: $2,250,000 - $2,275,000

Sale Price: $1,462,500 (inc. commission)

Short of Bottom Estimate By: $787,500 or 54%



6 - 1966 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham

Estimate: $75,000 - $100,000

Sale Price: $36,400 (inc. commission)

Short of Bottom Estimate By: $38,600 or 106%



5 - 1961 Maserati 3500 GT

Estimate: $225,000 - $275,000

Sale Price: $106,400 (inc. commission)

Short of Bottom Estimate By: $118,600 or 111%



4 - 1952 Kurtis 4000 “Bowes Seal Fast" Special

1952 Kurtis 4000 “Bowes Seal Fast" Special | Source: RM Sotheby's
1952 Kurtis 4000 “Bowes Seal Fast" Special | Source: RM Sotheby's

Estimate: $275,000 - $300,000

Sale Price: $112,000 (inc. commission)

Short of Bottom Estimate By: $163,000 or 146%



3 - 1939 Delage D6 - 3L Grand Prix

Estimate: $600,000 - $750,000

Sale Price: $240,000 (inc. commission)

Short of Bottom Estimate By: $360,000 or 150%



2 - 1923 Locomobile Model 48 Sportif

Estimate: $125,000 - $175,000

Sale Price: $44,8000 (inc. commission)

Short of Bottom Estimate By: $80,200 or 179%



1 - 1911 Peugeot Bébé Type BP1

Estimate: $25,000 - $35,000

Sale Price: $5,600 (inc. commission)

Short of Bottom Estimate By: $19,400 or 346%



There we have it, the ultimate guide to the most important classic car week in the calendar. It took us over 13 hours to pull together this article so if you enjoyed it, please sign up to our newsletter here to be the first to receive these insights and more.


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Till next year...



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